14 insights from my journey to reach 500 followers on Medium

Paul Aladenika
4 min readMay 21, 2023
Image courtesy of Kobu Agency on Unsplash

I posted my first blog on Medium in January 2021 and reached the 500-follower milestone last week. Almost all my current following [99.8 percent] was achieved in just nine months [September 2022-May 2023]. Prior to that I did not actively engage on Medium and like anything that is not cultivated and nurtured, I saw little or no growth.

Reaching 500-followers is purely symbolic. Unlike the 100-follower threshold, which affords account holders access to the Medium Partner Programme, 500 followers affords no such privileges or entitlements.

Notwithstanding, I thought it would be a good point at which to share some insights that might be of benefit to others looking to grow their following or increase engagement with their content.

Set out below, under three sub-headings, are 14 lessons from the journey to reach 500 Medium account followers.

Lessons on engagement

1. If you want to grow your presence, engagement with other accounts is key. Make the point to read or at least skim read, a few blogs each week and offer feedback to the writers. Do not expect others to engage with your content if you are unwilling to engage with theirs.

2. Keep in mind that passive followers are not the same as active following. Just because you have followers does not mean that they will actively engage with your content. People follow for different reasons.

3. Help others to grow. I always find it odd that people seem to miss the ‘social’ in social media. A thriving platform, where everyone grows, benefits all content creators and will attract others as well.

4. Following other accounts is a form of engagement. In my experience more than 50 per cent of my followers have come from following other relevant accounts.

Lessons on following (and unfollowing)

5. I always review an account before I follow back. I just think that it is disingenuous to follow back, if I know perfectly well that I have no interest in the content published on that account. If they choose to unfollow me, then so be it.

6. If you are simply looking to increase your follower numbers, you are probably better off adding accounts with a following below three figures. They are much more likely to reciprocate and follow-back than much larger accounts.

7. Be prepared to unfollow non-engagers. If you take the time to read and comment on the content of those whom you follow, it is not unreasonable to expect them to do likewise (remember it is social media not anti-social media). Engage with those who engage and disengage from those who do not.

8. Ignore the follower to following ratio. It does not matter whether you are following more accounts than are following you. What matters is that you are following those whose content and engagement you value.

Lessons on writing

9. Cultivate your audience. I would strongly encourage you to stick to a small clutch of topics about which you have genuine expertise or interest. Writing opinion pieces or commentary on issues that you know little about will likely dilute the quality of your content and make you appear uninformed.

10. Don’t just offer useful information, provide meaningful insight. If people are going to read your content, make it worth their while. Inject your writing with uncommon perspectives, similes, and narratives that readers will not find elsewhere.

11. Don’t feel the need to be prolific but do try and post blogs at consistent intervals. If you are looking to build a following it helps if they know what to expect and when to expect it.

12. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I have written some blogs that have been greeted with the deafening sound of tumbleweed and others that have trended. It is what it is.

Lessons on other stuff

13. Think carefully before you apply to join the Medium Partnership Programme. In my experience, the number of views and reads you get will likely drop significantly and this will affect the growth of your account. A Medium Partnership Programme application is only something that I would consider again, once I have cultivated an active following.

14. Offer your content to other publishers. I regularly submit my content to Startup Stash and occasionally to Illumination for publication on their Medium webpages.

Aside from the points about the need for active interaction, there are no hard and fast engagement rules on Medium. Each account holder will approach their Medium experience in the way that meets their expectation and preferences. Notwithstanding, hopefully the points raised in this blog will be useful to someone.

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Paul Aladenika

Believer, TEDx speaker, host of The 11th Thing Podcast, blogger, mentor, student of leadership, social economist & thinker. Creator of www.believernomics.com .